So, in Germany there is a strong tradition of organized club activities. The right to found a club is listed in the German constitution, and is something that is taken very seriously here. People are highly dedicated to putting a good effort into whatever field of interest they might have, be it sewing, sports, or any other type of hobby. The idea behind these groups is that they can work together to improve at whatever given skill they choose.
Currently, I am participating in 2 Vereine, a theater group and a Blasorchester.
Today I am going to talk about the Blasorchester, because we have an upcoming concert. Blasorchester is translated to English as wind band. It is a privately organized group that consists of a bunch of community members playing their instruments for fun. Unlike in the U.S. arts and sports activities are largely organized through schools, in Germany they are purely in the domain of free-time activities. This means that many of the Vereine have loyal memebers who have been participating for as long as 40 years and also a much larger span of ages and life experiences.
Recently we had a year end concert, which consisted of a combination of traditional polkas, modern artsy pieces and a slew of popular music settings that the audience could sing along to. My favorite piece was entitled “Die Klarinettenmückl” (The Clarinetbug) and featured soli from the clarinet section. It worked well because it highlighted the strong mid-section of the band.
I also got a new band uniform, one very different than any of the black band dresses I have previously had to wear in concerts:
When I asked about the origins of this colorful outfit, which consisted of a very lacy blouse, a pink vest, a green jacket and a pink scarf, I was told that it stemmed from traditional German peasant clothing, often called “Tracht” the same category that contains some of the more well known peasant clothing like dirndls and lederhosen (which for the record, are not traditional to the region where Tübingen is located). It was a lot of fun to get dressed up and to see how a different band uniform worked. I for one have had my share of marching and concert band outfits and although this one was pretty okay, and definitely the most brightly colored one that I have ever worn.
Overall, I really enjoy playing in the band. It helps me to feel at home and connected within the community here in Tübingen. It gives me a change of pace from the normal college student crowd and lets me see a different side of German culture.